President Barack Obama will appoint Ron Klain his "Ebola czar," knowledgeable sources tell CNN. The president on Thursday signaled his openness to the idea to have one individual coordinating the entire federal response to any threat of an outbreak in the United States.So, he doesn't know healthcare but he knows how to spend a trillion (with a "t") dollars without getting anything for it. Perfect! And even better:
"It may make sense for us to have one person ... so that after this initial surge of activity, we can have a more regular process just to make sure that we're crossing all the T's and dotting all the I's going forward," Obama said.
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Klain is highly regarded at the White House as a good manager with excellent relationships both in the administration and on Capitol Hill. His supervision of the allocation of funds in the stimulus act -- at the time and incredible and complicated government undertaking -- is respected in Washington. He does not have any extensive background in health care but the job is regarded as a managerial challenge.
He will report to both White House homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco and National Security Advisor Susan Rice, according to a White House official.Which makes this witticism by Stacy McCain from last night even more amusing:
It is all very strange, since Obama already had an "Ebola Czar", Dr. Nicole Laurie: President Obama Already Has An Ebola Czar. Where Is She?
In the video below, the woman who heads that office, Dr. Nicole Lurie, explains that the responsibilities of her office are “to help our country prepare for, respond to and recover from public health threats.” She says her major priority is to help the country prepare for emergencies and to “have the countermeasures—the medicines or vaccines that people might need to use in a public health emergency. So a large part of my office also is responsible for developing those countermeasures.”
Or, as National Journal rather glowingly puts it, “Lurie’s job is to plan for the unthinkable. A global flu pandemic? She has a plan. A bioterror attack? She’s on it. Massive earthquake? Yep. Her responsibilities as assistant secretary span public health, global health, and homeland security.” A profile of Lurie quoted her as saying, “I have responsibility for getting the nation prepared for public health emergencies—whether naturally occurring disasters or man-made, as well as for helping it respond and recover. It’s a pretty significant undertaking.” Still another refers to her as “the highest-ranking federal official in charge of preparing the nation to face such health crises as earthquakes, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, and pandemic influenza.”
It's funny that her name has not been mentioned by the Obama administration in connection with Ebola. It's also notable that she has been embroiled with a scandal involving the development of antiviral drug thought to be active against smallpox and Ebola at the hands of a big democratic donor, Ron Perelman.